F.A.Q.

Frequently Asked Questions
Where did the name of this organization come from?
In an early breakfast meeting in Santa Rosa, April of 2002, Christine Wells-Groff (Foppiano Vineyards), Dan Berger (Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences), and Jo Diaz (Diaz Communications) were brainstorming for the First Annual Petite Sirah Symposium to be held at Foppiano Vineyards on August 6, 2002. Christine and Jo were discussing with Dan what he thought of the idea, to which he replied, “I think that this will go really well, and I also believe that there should be a group of Petite Sirah growers and producers. They can call themselves, P.S. I Love You!”

After the Symposium, a questionnaire went to all the attendees asking, “If there was a group called P.S. I Love You for Pet growers and producers, would you join?” The answer was a resounding, “Yes.” Foppiano Vineyards bought the domain name, www.psiloveyou.org, Rosenblum Cellars paid the Webmaster, and the membership grew enthusiastically by leaps and bounds the first year.

Is Petite Sirah a hybrid?
According to Dr. Carole Meredith: PS is not a hybrid in the sense it is used for wine grapes. PS is pure Vitis vinifera. In the context of wine, the term “hybrid” refers only to grape varieties that have American grape species in their ancestry, such as Seyval blanc or Marechal foch or Baco noir.

Like every Vitis vinifera grape variety we’ve looked at so far, PS has as its parents two other varieties of Vitis vinifera. Some examples are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon — its parents are Cabernet franc and Sauvignon
    blanc
  • Chardonnay — its parents are Pinot and Gouais blanc
  • Syrah — its parents are Dureza and Mondeuse blanche
  • Petite Sirah — its parents are Peloursin and Syrah

In scientific circles, one might use the term “hybrid” to describe any of the above varieties, because each is the offspring of two parents. But in wine writing, the term should be avoided, because it refers to varieties whose parents are not pure Vitis vinifera.

What was Durif’s first name?

François Durif. According to the late famed president of the International Gourmet Society and a member of some 66 wine-tasting societies around the world, Roy Andries de Groot* has said of François Durif, “In the 19th century, the vine was brought to the United States, but, as with the Gamay Beaujolais, the planting and development have been burdened by mistakes and misunderstandings caused by inefficient labeling and record keeping. The Syrah has become mixed up with a second vine type from the Rhone-a variety that began to be planted in the valley of the great river around 1880-a common grape with none of the superb qualities of Syrah. This lesser grape was developed by a French amateur botanist, Dr. François Durif, so the vine was given his name. (Today, members of PS I Love You would gladly take issue with de Groot’s opinions; however, for our purposes, his exact words hold some truths, and are worth repeating here.)

*Roy Andries de Groot, The Wines of California, The Pacific Northwest
& New York, Summit Books, , New York, 1982, pp. 154 – 155.

Is it one “f” or two, in the name Durif?
There is only one “f” in the name Durif.
What is the difference in Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Shiraz?

According to Dr. Carole Meredith of the University of California – Davis, “Petite Sirah is the offspring of Syrah. Every grape variety has two parents. In the case of Petite Sirah, those two parents are Syrah and Peloursin. That means that half of the genetic makeup of Petite Sirah came directly from Syrah. Syrah is the father of Petite Sirah in the true genetic sense. Syrah and Shiraz are synonyms.”

Why is it sometimes written Petite Syrah and sometimes written Petite Sirah.

According to the late Roy Andries de Groot, “Perhaps in California… They decided to give it a new name, including a French word for prestige, and something a bit easier to spell than Syrah. Both requirements were met by calling the new American vine Petite Sirah.”*

**Roy Andries de Groot, The Wines of California, The Pacific Northwest
& New York, Summit Books, , New York, 1982, pp. 155.

Read A Brief History of Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah, also known as Durif, has an intriguing history that intertwines Europe and the New World.

  1. Origins: It all starts in the 1860s in France when a botanist named François Durif discovered a new grape variety in the Rhône region. This grape was a cross between Peloursin and Syrah, hence the name Durif.
  2. Migration to the New World: The grape made its way to California in the late 19th century, likely brought by Charles McIver, a French nurseryman. Initially, it was thought to be a clone of Syrah, but later it was identified as Durif.
  3. California’s Adoption: In California, Petite Sirah found a welcoming home. Its ability to withstand the heat and produce deeply colored, tannic wines made it a favorite among winemakers.
  4. Prohibition and Decline: During Prohibition, many vineyards were uprooted, including a significant portion of Petite Sirah vines. After Prohibition ended, there was a shift towards more popular varieties, causing Petite Sirah to decline in popularity.
  5. Revival and Recognition: Despite its decline, Petite Sirah didn’t disappear entirely. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, there was a renewed interest in this grape variety. Winemakers recognized its potential for producing bold, full-bodied wines with intense flavors of dark fruit, spice, and chocolate.
  6. Modern Era: Today, Petite Sirah is experiencing a renaissance. It has gained recognition for its unique character and is often used in blends to add structure and complexity. It has also found success as a varietal wine, particularly in regions like California and Australia.

Get a Detailed Timeline Here…

What Does Dr. Carole Meredith Have To Say About Petite Sirah? Taken from a taped transcript of the 2002 Petite Sirah Symposium at Foppiano Vineyards:

BATF is now considering whether or not to allow the name Durif to be used as a synonym for Petite Sirah. I think that there’s a fair bit of confusion on this subject, so it might be useful if I simply review what Petite Sirah is.

To my mind, Petite Sirah is Durif. There is no doubt about this. Some Petite Sirah vineyards, especially old ones, often contain a few vines of other varieties, but when we analyzed the DNA of vines that look like Petite Sirah, more than 90% of them are Durif. The few that are not turn out to be Peloursin, which is the mother of Durif and looks a lot like it.

Old red vineyards are mixtures. You usually find four, or five, or eight, or nine, or ten varieties in there. I’ve been in some of the old Petite Sirah vineyards, and I’ve found all kinds of weird stuff. But the same thing happens if you go in an old Zin vineyard, or even an old Cab vineyard. You will find a lot of other varieties. So, everything that looked like Petite Sirah that we sampled was Durif. We don’t need to worry that not all Petite Sirah is Durif, because I would say that Petite Sirah is Durif, no questions asked.

So, what that means, when we say Petite Sirah is Durif, is that it’s a synonym… that’s simply two names for the same variety, just like Shiraz and Syrah; two names for the same variety. It doesn’t mean that Durif is like this, and Petite Sirah’s like this, and there’s some differences. It’s just two names.

Now what about the relationship between Petite Sirah and Syrah? What we now know is that Petite Sirah is the offspring of Syrah. Every grape variety has two parents. In the case of Petite Sirah, those two parents are Syrah and Peloursin. That means that half of the genetic makeup of Petite Sirah came directly from Syrah. Syrah is the father of Petite Sirah in the true genetic sense.

Clones are just variants within a variety; so there may well be clones within Petite Sirah, but it’s not correct to say that Petite Sirah is a clone of Syrah. They’re two distinct varieties, but they’re as closely related as two varieties can be.

Petite Sirah I Love You

Mailing Address

PO Box 1505
Windsor CA 95442

Mailing Address

PO Box 1505
Windsor CA 95442

Email

info@psiloveyou.org